In sales, chasing a bad deal is always a bad idea

In the “feast or famine” dynamics of sales, the more opportunities you have in your sales funnel, the more selective you can be about which ones to work first. Conversely, the fewer opportunities in your sales funnel, the greater the inclination to chase all of them, regardless of how mediocre (or downright bad) the opportunity. Working on a sales opportunity shouldn’t be a function of the size of the funnel, it should always be based on the quality of each opportunity, because chasing a bad deal is always a bad idea.

I once worked at a company where I had over 500 leads in my sales funnel and was under the constant directive from the CEO to “go chase everything right now and close everything possible”. This was a poor strategy; first because of “the laws of physics” the day only had so many hours, but second, the opportunities were not all of equal quality and value. Without an informed, stack-ranked prioritization, he was putting the mediocre and even the bad deals ahead of the best, most profitable opportunities.

Sales organizations need to identify the opportunities that are most aligned with their company’s business plan so they know “this is what good looks like” and “this is what a bad opportunity looks like”. They need to clearly understand the reasons why something is good, and what makes it better than other opportunities.

Some key factors to rank a deal should include:

· Highest to lowest profitability / revenue potential

· Shortest to longest sales cycle / effort and opportunity cost

· Target product mix / market share potential

When time, focus and effort is placed on mediocre opportunities that don’t align with the corporate sales and business plans, it is wasted effort, even if the opportunity is won. Whether the sales funnel is robust or weak, work on the opportunities that on their own merit should be pursued. I get the fact that we've all had to chase and close bad opportunities to make "numbers", but that should be a management decision by exception, not the standard operating rule.

If you have a weak sales funnel, don’t let the pressure of closing any deal, even a bad one, take over. If you only have bad deals, don’t waste time by chasing them. Your time is much better spent rebuilding your pipeline by prospecting for more of the “best” opportunities.

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